Week In Review

October 28, 2007

Brooklyn Park

Hazardous waste cleanup ordered

The owner of a dormant Brooklyn Park pharmaceutical plant, which was found to have open chemicals and 50,000 gallons of hazardous waste on its property, has been ordered to clean up the site by year's end or face federal fines of up to $32,500 a day.

A directive issued last week by the Environmental Protection Agency requires Consolidated Pharmaceuticals Inc. to remove a tank of hydrochloric acid by the end of the month and a host of other toxic chemicals by Dec. 31.

Environmental regulators and Anne Arundel County officials say those pollutants pose a fire hazard and an imminent threat to public health. The warehouse and tank-storage area are within a mile of three schools and a short walk from homes and a neighborhood playground.

State officials had issued an order in May for a cleanup. Federal regulators said they will step in to rid the site of pollutants if Consolidated does not act quickly enough. They have estimated that cleanup costs could exceed $1 million.

A section, Friday

Annapolis

Special session, usual crowding

The narrow, shop-lined sidewalks in downtown Annapolis may grow more crowded. The usual long line inside the Subway sandwich shop during the lunch rush may snake outside the door. Parking, already in short supply, will likely be more scarce.

But to residents of this capital city, the influx of legislators and their staffs and lobbyists set to convene tomorrow for the start of the General Assembly's special session, is not really special.

"We see them every year," said Ray Weaver, spokesman for Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer. "It's their home away from home. We're accustomed to the legislature being here. We're not going to do anything other than to welcome them."

In town to address the state's nearly $2 billion budget deficit, the 181-member General Assembly will likely spend a week in the city, maybe more. Their presence will translate into dollar signs for Annapolis with higher occupancy rates at hotels and busier lunch hours at restaurants.

Metro section, Friday

Bay Bridge

No charges filed in fatal crash

The driver of a Lincoln Navigator whose trailer came loose on the Bay Bridge in May was "solely at fault" for the deadly crash that resulted, according to a police investigation, but prosecutors have decided that they have no grounds for charging him with any traffic offenses.

Three Eastern Shore men died in the seven-vehicle collision May 10, which closed the westbound span of the bridge well into the night and backed up traffic for miles. A report released last week by the Maryland Transportation Authority Police said the driver of the Navigator, Stephen A. Burt of Rockville, was responsible for the deadly chain of events.

It concluded that there was no evidence that Burt had used a safety hitch pin to secure the single-axle trailer to his vehicle. Without that pin to hold the latch lever in place, the trailer came loose as it bounced on the bridge, according to the report.

Investigators also determined that the chains used to pull the trailer were too long, allowing the front of the trailer to hit the ground.

Nevertheless, the Anne Arundel County state's attorney's office concluded that "no current regulations exist" that would justify charges in the case.

Metro section, Thursday

Annapolis

Several enter race for Christman seat

With Republican Alderman Michael I. Christman's formal resignation letter turned in, the race is on to find his replacement on the Annapolis city council.

Debbie Rosen McKerrow, a Democrat who narrowly lost to Christman two years ago, confirmed last week that she will seek the Ward 2 seat in a special election, the second within a year. The county's Green Party announced that Karen Jennings, a 33-year-old community activist, will join the race. A prominent city Republican, Alderman David Cordle, said his party is trying to recruit a candidate.

After months of speculation that Christman would step down, the Republican faxed his resignation letter to Mayor Ellen O. Moyer on Monday afternoon.

Christman told constituents, council members and the mayor Oct. 1 that he would be stepping down, but he had not formalized his intention, delaying the expected special election.

Anne Arundel section, Wednesday

Annapolis

Sting catches 40 on criminal charges

Perhaps they should have been tipped off by the fact that the comptroller's office isn't open on the weekends, or that you can't get a tax refund if you don't pay your taxes.

Either way, 40 people wanted on criminal warrants trekked to Annapolis Oct. 20 to claim a phony tax refund and left in handcuffs.

In what could be considered the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes of police stings, the Anne Arundel County Sheriff's Office sent letters to 500 people this month, announcing that a computer glitch meant there was a $572.26 check with their name on it that could be picked up in person.

Once they arrived and their identities were confirmed, deputies placed them under arrest.

Metro section, Tuesday

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